HPH250 : 10 inspiring self builds – with Ben Adam-Smith
To celebrate our 250th podcast, Ben Adam-Smith picks out ten of his favourite new build homes. These are all homes he has visited and which have impressed him in different ways.
1. Dundon Passivhaus
Architect Graham Bizley and interior designer Emily Bizley have produced a magnificent, modern family home that takes in all of the surrounding countryside.
There are some fantastic spaces in here and the timber theme flows effortlessly from outside to inside. Graham and Emily also did a lot of the work themselves – true craftsmanship – and this tailors the home perfectly to them.
While the finished house may look happily aloft, there were plenty of highs and lows for Jon Martin and Noreen Jaafar. They bought this plot without planning permission, even though the local planning authority said it would never get approval. Needless to say they got the green light!
Then there is the technical challenge of building amongst mature trees. They used pile foundations which carefully stepped around the root structure! Oh, and let's not forget that they used no concrete on the build. Even running out of money they pushed on to secure Passivhaus certification. A truly remarkable home.
3. Fran Bradshaw's house
Located on the Norfolk coast this is a labour of love for architect Fran Bradshaw. There are beautiful materials – straw bales, thatch, lime render, clay plaster, timber – which pair up nicely with the home's high performance credentials.
4. The Autonomous House
Mike Coe and Lizzie Stoodley went all out on this project to create an ultra low energy eco-build. The heat demand for this house is a tiny 4kWh per m2 per year. It brings all the services in house, so there's no mains water or mains drainage. Instead rainwater is harvested from the roof and stored in large tanks (recycled orange juice containers) under the house. There are composting toilets, within the thermal envelope. And a PV array supplies the electricity.
Mike and Lizzie, however, did not stay as long as they intended. Driven by how the climate is changing they decided to move further north to the Isle of Skye… and tackle their second self build!
5. The Cut
Self-builders Tara Murphy and Dimitri Daras spent their money wisely here. It's another example of how a house with a simple form doesn't have to be boring. On the contrary it is striking.
Tara also specified a lot of the house with a baby in tow!
6. Ashley Vale
Yes, this is not strictly a self build but community-led housing. It got a place on this list for a few reasons. It's inspired so many other community-driven projects as this was one of the early ones.
They also managed to wrangle the land away from a volume house-builder, which is an incredible feat.
And at the end of it all, one of their key players Jackson Moulding went on to set up Ecomotive, to empower other groups to do exactly the same.
7. Lansdowne Drive
Architect Bernard Tulkens was behind this project. It's a modest house that embraces simplicity. The cross-laminated timber structure is exposed as is the ventilation ducting, but it works a treat.
Throughout the building they have tried to make as much use as they can of recycled, reclaimed and other materials that have low embodied energy.
And from a Passivhaus point of view there were plenty of challenges… three storey Victorian homes completely overshadow them on the south side. Therefore their West-facing glazing has to be carefully controlled with blinds.
8. Hampshire Passivhaus
Architect Ruth Butler perhaps took on a site that others would dismiss. It was a brownfield site that is overlooked by 13 neighbours. So her constraint-led design would need to rise to the challenge.
And it certainly does. A wonderful contemporary home that feels extremely private from the inside.
9. Buckinghamshire Passivhaus
This was one of the UK's first Passivhaus Plus projects. The architect, Jae Cotterell, was also supplying the build system (PH15). It recorded an outstanding airtightness result of 0.07 ach@50Pa.
A large solar PV, beautifully integrated, helps them deal with a lot of their energy needs before the surplus is exported.
10. Chiswick Eco Lodge
Architect Richard Dudzicki delivered this project for client Oliver Smallman. Oliver lived in a Victorian house next door and had built this property to rent out. But, he liked it so much, after renting it out for a couple of years he decided to move in.
This house feels wonderfully at home on this street and the clever design must take the credit.
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